The FY 2017 Supplemental Budget that became law Wednesday includes $2 million proposed by Governor LePage in support of the University of Maine System’s work to strengthen early college programming currently serving students in more than 100 Maine high schools.

Maine State House at Augusta, Maine - AP

The spending measure, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature earlier in the month, provides resources necessary for the universities to strengthen high school partnerships, provide quality instruction, and enhance student support services.

Among spending items included in the Supplemental Budget was also funding proposed by the Governor that helps Maine’s public universities maintain a commitment to affordability that is among the best in the country.

Early College programming provides Maine high school students with an opportunity to do college level work at substantial savings while still progressing toward their high school diplomas.  A priority program for the Governor, university leaders, and many in the Legislature, participation in Early College programing through the Universities has grown more than 250 percent over the last four years.  Today nearly 2,500 students from more than 100 secondary schools across Maine are getting an early and affordable head start on their college education through university programs.

Maine high school students earned approximately 12,000 college credit hours in the Fall of 2016 alone.   Early opportunities to engage in college-level work creates awareness and academic confidence among students while reducing the time, family expense, and student loan indebtedness needed to earn a college degree or credential

Maine’s demographic challenges will reduce the size of the state’s workforce by 15 percent while economic forecasts suggest more than 60% of new Maine jobs will require a post-secondary education.  Improving early college access for Maine high school juniors and seniors is one of the many steps public higher education and its partners are taking to position Maine’s workforce for the future.

“Our partnerships with local educators have expanded early college programming into more than 100 Maine high schools,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System.  “With the additional funds proposed by the Governor and approved by the Legislature we will work with parents, teachers, and school boards throughout the state to strengthen our programming and continue toward the day when every Maine high school junior and senior has the chance get an early and affordable start on their college education.”